13 Apr2010


Imagine your own cheeks turned into bacon. Mine would yield a pretty small chunk despite my weight. But click on the jump here and see what must be the jowl (one of only two!) of a massive 250+ kilo pig! The jowl is huge!? And after being cured in salt with some spices, it has already shrunk from its original size! At any rate, guanciale is an Italian bacon of sorts, and the tasty, fatty cheek is used rather than the more common bacon made from pork belly.


I have referred to guanciale before, here and in a related form, here, as Kurubota pig’s jowls… Sister had brought this piece of guanciale over several weeks ago and it has been resting in the fridge, awaiting its destiny with egg yolks and cheese in a classic carbonara done superbly well by Mrs. MM…


The recipe Mrs. MM uses for carbonara is described in this previous post, but I warn you, DO NOT add any cream whatsoever, we are purists of sorts on this type of pasta. NO CREAM, OKAY? :)



  1. marilen says:

    Wow – the privilege to view and comment first !! gianciale – truly delicious looking. I had just made abichuelas with slices of smithfield salted pork belly, topped off with garlic bits fried in olive oil and love that melt in your mouth taste – anything porky I guess is delicious.

    Apr 13, 2010 | 7:27 am


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  3. natie says:

    wow, that must smell so good while sizzling in a pan…

    Apr 13, 2010 | 7:47 am

  4. junb says:

    Hi MM, Try also guanciale aglio olio. fry the Italian bacon then set aside. Use the oil from guanciale and add olive oil to sweat the slice garlic, then at last minute put 3-4 pcs whole chilli padi slit slighthly to release some heat. Turn off the heat add yr pasta and a few more chilli for presentation then seasoned with black pepper and good quality rock salt. mix well then top with an italian flat parley. Simple yet delicous.

    Apr 13, 2010 | 8:05 am

  5. jean says:

    I’ve been told one cannot make a proper spaghetti all’ amatriciana without guanciale. And onions. No garlic. With a handful of good canned tomatoes, and a bit of red pepper flakes. Yum! Gotta try Mrs. MM’s carbonara recipe. Double yum!

    Apr 13, 2010 | 8:49 am

  6. atbnorge says:

    I love that purist bit, MM, hahaha! Trust the Pinoys to add sugar, too, LOL.

    Apr 13, 2010 | 9:32 am

  7. Cris Jose says:

    The fat on that bacon is making me drool. :)

    Apr 13, 2010 | 10:53 am

  8. joyce says:

    hehehe, i thought all these years that my mom’s carbonara recipe was an improv because she did not add cream as opposed to carbonara served at restaurant turns out hers was the authentic one

    Apr 13, 2010 | 12:23 pm

  9. Dorothy says:

    I read your previous post with the carbonara recipe and I noticed that you have garlic in it, rather the oil used to fry the garlic. I lived in Italy for some time and tried different variations of carbonara. Garlic is not something that they would normally use in this recipe because guanciale already has a very strong flavor. Have you ever tried cooking the dish without garlic?

    Apr 13, 2010 | 12:38 pm

  10. Marketman says:

    Dorothy, yes, you can do this without garlic if you prefer, of course. Mrs. MM I think used a recipe from Marcella Hazan as her guide:

    Ms. Hazan’s ingredients include 4 garlic cloves for a six-serving portion of the recipe and describes it as (and I quote):

    “Lightly mash the garlic with a knife handle, enough to split it and lossen the skin, which you will discard. Put the garlic and the olive in a small saute pan and turn on the heat to medium high. Saute until the garlic becomes colored a deep gold, and remove and discard it.”

    And in case Ms. Hazan, who is now a resident of the U.S., is viewed to be less authentic than an Italian living in Italy…

    Lorenza de’ Medici, in her lovely book Lorenza’s pasta, also calls for a single large clove of garlic, left whole (and I quote):

    “Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and fry until it is just golden. Discard the garlic, …”

    And since Ms. de Medici hails from a fairly illustrious family of foodies, ancestors of hers being the first to enjoy flavored ices from snow brought down from the Alps(?) no less, I think she is fairly credible.

    The book “The Best Italian Classics” from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated, devotes 3-4 pages to their tome on Spaghetti a la Carbonara, and in their introduction, (and I quote) they write:

    “Shards of Italian bacon punctuate the dish with enough presence to make one give silent thanks to the pig. And just when you think that it can’t get any better, the bright punch of hot garlic kicks in.” And their recipe calls for 3 small cloves of garlic that are “minced to a paste or pressed through a garlic press”.

    Now curious to find a recipe in one of our Italian cookbooks without garlic, I turn to Biba Caggiano, my early hero from the Food Network whose shows were my solution to work stress when I pulled 80-100 work weeks often in the 1990’s, and she calls for 2 cloves of garlic in her recipe and writes (and I quote): “Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic begins to color. Discard the garlic.”

    I then turn to Phaidon’s tome on Italian cooking called “The Silver Spoon” which claims to be “the bible of authentic Italian cooking” and “Italy’s best-selling cookbook for over 50 years, and their recipe for carbonara calls for 1 garlic clove, and instructions state: “….add pancetta and garlic and cook until the garlic turns brown. Remove and discard the garlic.”

    So actually, I haven’t found a recipe in one of our cookbooks at home that doesn’t call for garlic. Since many call for just flavoring the oil with the aroma of garlic, it perhaps goes unnoticed to most diners by the time it hits the tables… But again, I don’t see why you shouldn’t leave out the garlic if you don’t like it. Just don’t put in any cream, okay? :)

    P.S. the whole no cream argument is a dicey one, as the tale goes that the American soldiers during the war were the ones to inspire the creation of this dish to begin with, so the current American penchant (and Filipino one as well) for adding cream may not be so bizarre after all. But no cream on marketmanila.com. :)

    Apr 13, 2010 | 1:54 pm

  11. shep915 says:

    Hi MM, I learned about guanciale from your “Cheeky Pigs / Guanciale (Pig’s Cheeks) 2006. Ever since I followed your linked page of Babbo Ristorante http://www.babbonyc.com/in-guanciale.html

    I make homemade guanciale every now and then, whenever I find good pig jowls (only here in Robinson’s Sta. Rosa I can find, frozen pa, better than nothing). Wala sa palengke, they sell, if not the whole pig head they sell pig face, ears and all (face-off na), for sisig or tokwa baboy, . Last month I ordered pig jowls from a meat shop in Balibago Sta. Rosa, but I’m quite disappointed because the jowls were small. I made them anyways, I kept it in ref. yesterday after 7 days curing and 21 days drying. Incidentally, you posted again about guanciale.

    I hadn’t seen real guanciale even up this moment except web photos and and what you have here. What I made I would say is a “poor man’s guanciale.” My wife and our grown “kids” love it every time I cook “Pasta alla amatriciana” since I don’t have bucatini, hard to find. I followed this Bucatini alla Amatriciana, Spaghetti alla Gricia and , Spaghetti alla Carbonara: http://www.themorningnews.org/archives/how_to/the_art_of_the_cure.php . Not bad for a “poor man’s guanciale”, porky umami so rich, even no MSG. I’m sure nothing beats the authentic Guanciale, but so pricey, ( for me it really is) I was shocked, when I found it here: http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/s-l-fine-foods-inc .

    Thanks again MM, I’m learning a lot.

    Apr 13, 2010 | 1:57 pm

  12. joey says:

    This looks like heaven to me MM! I was hoping you procured it here but, siiiigh, it’s not to be!

    Apr 13, 2010 | 4:43 pm

  13. Dorothy says:

    Hi MM, of course there are so many variations of this dish that nobody can keep up. I’m speaking from my experience of eating in Italian homes and trying out local recipes. You might need to use Google Translate for these sites: http://ricette.giallozafferano.it/Spaghetti-alla-Carbonara.html and http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasta_alla_carbonara

    I also found some recipes in Italian that have cream and I think it’s just awful. Totally agree with you on that.

    PS. My British boyfriend and I are avid fans of your blog :-)

    Apr 13, 2010 | 4:50 pm

  14. Marketman says:

    Dorothy, yes, as with all recipes, tons of variations exist. I say go with what makes you happiest. Thanks for the links…

    Apr 13, 2010 | 4:52 pm

  15. Mom-Friday says:

    I wondered for a long time how I can serve Carbonara without the cream since hubby loves this dish with the creamy-cheesy sauce, but we’re trying to minimize casein (milk protein) intake for my boy — so again, THANK YOU, good to know the authentic way has NO cream! :D
    In your recipe, it called for white wine? Is there a substitute or can I do away with this since I’m serving this to the kids?

    Apr 13, 2010 | 5:51 pm

  16. Angela says:

    I just had spaghetti carbonara the other day, but being too lazy to run to the store for guanciale, I made do with bacon. Not great, but it satisfied the craving.

    Apr 14, 2010 | 12:36 am

  17. millet says:

    have never had guiancale and have always been curious about it. what other dishes is it good with? have always had to settle for bacon for my carbonara. yup, no cream.

    Apr 14, 2010 | 9:03 am

  18. Jean says:

    Mmmm, spaghetti carbonara is one of my top three favorites next to spaghetti bolognese and bucatini amatriciana. I agree that the traditional preparation-no cream-is the best. I wish I had some guanciale right now.

    Apr 14, 2010 | 10:00 am

  19. junb says:

    Hi Mom-Friday I have two kids too. Dont worry serving them food with wine since most of the alcohol has evaporated during cooking leaving only the sweetness of the grapes in yr food.

    Apr 15, 2010 | 6:55 am

  20. junb says:

    The ultimate for me is when I did cured my own leg ham, guanciale and bacon without the use of salt peter. Using it on carbonara, aglio olio and various recipe that calls for ham will definitely makes you proud. Word of caution though makes sure you follow every details of the step and ingredients as well as the cleanliness to ensure no bacteria growth. There is a curing process on the links given by shep915 above that I did follow as a start of my curing experiment.

    Apr 15, 2010 | 7:08 am

  21. andrea says:

    Hi MM!

    Would you know where I can get some guanciale and pecorino in Manila? Thanks!!

    Jul 29, 2011 | 11:17 am


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